ARBRE’s overarching goal is to better understand the mechanisms governing the adaptation and evolution of trees and forests in order to predict their responses to global changes (climate change and land use) in the medium and long-term, ultimately to guarantee sustained production of quality ecosystem goods and services. Recognizing that forest resilience and productivity both rely on a range of biological and biophysical processes, the ARBRE research agenda is centered on the interactions that occur between these processes at micro-, meso-, and macroscales.

ARBRE’s main research objectives are to further understanding of the biological, ecological and evolutionary processes that affect interactions between organisms in temperate forest ecosystems, and to develop new approaches to address key questions related to nutrient cycling, carbon storage and cycling, forest productivity, wood products, ecosystem services and sustainable forest management. We have implemented a cross-thematic approach activating a wide range of disciplines – from genomics to functional ecology and economics – in order to understand, monitor and predict community structures, dynamics and processes in forest ecosystems.

ARBRE is also focused on addressing key questions in forest ecology and evolution by synthesizing existing data, developing innovative conceptual models, designing novel wood products and providing policy recommendations based on scientific data.

ARBRE’s unique added value, relative to existing international research efforts in this field, is its integrated approach designed to: (i) develop a comprehensive molecular-level understanding of the forest soil microbiome, tree-microbe interactions, and tree development and functioning, through the application of ‘-omics’ approaches and system biology; (ii) generate functional and mechanistic insights into the complex interactions between biogeochemical cycles, carbon sequestration and biodiversity in forests, including interspecific and intraspecific genetic variability. This is achieved by using long-term observatories (LTO) for field experiments such as isotopes tracing and large database analysis; (iii) integrate biochemistry- and biophysics-based knowledge to understand wood formation and to produce timber with properties tailored for ‘green’ end-products; (iv) contribute to the broader development of social, economic, and regulatory policies related to forest sciences and innovation in France, with specific focus on biodiversity; (v) provide high level training for careers in France’s R&D-driven industries and institutions; and (vi) rapidly disseminate scientific innovation to end users represented in the ARBRE consortium [i.e., the National Forests Office (ONF), the National Center for Forest Owners (CNPF), among others].

ARBRE’s research groups combine both bottom-up and top-down approaches (from understanding processes to forest functions, and from production of goods and services back to processes) within a series of interconnected task forces or work packages (WPs). WP1 integrates genomics know-how and toolkits to identify major genetic factors controlling soil microbiomes, root-microbe interactions, tree root development and functioning, and is focused on responses to global changes. WP2 investigates the processes that occur at the soil/microbe/tree and tree/atmosphere interfaces in forest ecosystems and forecasts the state and evolution of temperate forests. WP3 links wood properties of the forest resource to ‘green’ end-products that can be derived from wood fibers and their chemical components. WP4 is focused on developing biodiversity indicators and a new set of economic instruments (e.g. payment instruments) for motivating forest managers based on those indicators.


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